Cultivating Positive Relationships Customer Service Empowerment Techniques Social Media

Going viral potential amps up Customer Force of 1 influence

Airlines called on the carpet for perceived passenger mis-treatment. Companies seeing stock plummet after a negative quality report spreads like wildfire. Celebrities dethroned after a slur.

It’s all part of our viral world. It can bring down captains of industry and raise up a single individual to immediate fame. The omnipresent potential for going viral has forced companies everywhere to re-evaluate the power of a Customer Force of 1.

Instead of immediately ignoring a “gadfly,” many companies are increasingly predisposed to giving them some level of customer resolution, when normal customer service interactions haven’t worked. But first, corporate higher-ups empowered to resolve problems have to know about it.

As detailed in a previous post, the process of getting to those higher-ups isn’t as difficult as many believe. It typically does take some effort to research and communicate with the right people, but it can be time well spent.

The specter of something going viral is somewhat like a company getting a whole bunch of reviews—good or bad—at one time. While reviews in general reflect a mixture of positive and negative, a viral statement has immediate and often permanent impact on a company’s reputation.

The good news is that following through on a process to find and contact the right people to resolve customer service problems is generally much easier than trying to go viral. Essentially, we can all do it.

In many cases, the biggest initial challenge is finding those “right people.” I recently came upon Elliott Advocacy, which offers contacts in a variety of industries, to resolve an issue. Their information, at least in my most recent case, proved accurate and helpful.

While not attesting to the accuracy of Elliott Advocacy contact lists, I can say this: It worked once, and what’s the harm in giving it a shot?

According to Elliott Advocacy’s website, “Elliott Advocacy is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit consumer advocacy organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can’t.”

Founder Christopher Elliott has built an influential reputation in the customer service and resolution arena. According to, he’s a senior contributor with the following credentials: “Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can’t. He’s the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes weekly columns for King Features Syndicate, USA Today, and the Washington Post.”

While such entities as Elliott Advocacy can help consumers work through issues, it’s well worth your time to use their contact information to explore on your own and see what happens.

You may be pleasantly surprised at the outcome.


While customer service departments and representatives generally are doing a better job of addressing consumer satisfaction in a timely and complete manner, it’s not always sufficient to rely on others to move the process forward. In some cases, the impacted customer needs to go further and farther to pierce the normal routes and get needed attention and resolution at other levels—typically higher up the food chain. While the challenge can seem daunting, it can be surprisingly straightforward and satisfying.

Mark Lusky

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Mark Lusky

Mark Lusky (aka The Happy Curmudgeon)
is the owner of a Denver-based marketing communications firm. He’s a veteran writer, storyteller and author, with 40+ years of public relations, advertising, marketing and journalism experience, and author of A Wandering Wondering Jew… and co-author of Don’t Get Mad, Get Leverage.

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